Harris not really ‘radical left,’ just pretending, says … Trump?

Kamala Harris
Sen. Kamala Harris at an immigration forum at UNLV in June 2019. (Photo: Jeniffer Solis)

It’s official: Donald Trump’s juvenile talent for assigning schoolyard nicknames peaked with “Little Marco.”

The research, analysis, and gauging of political and policy considerations that went into Joe Biden’s search for a vice presidential pick culminated Tuesday in the selection of an exceptionally eloquent U.S. senator and former California attorney general who will be the first Black woman on a major party presidential ticket.

Anticipating Biden’s choice, Trump and the other best minds of the Republican Party no doubt spent hours of research and analysis of their own contemplating one of the most important political questions of Trump’s 2020 campaign: When referring to the Democratic Party VP nominee, what would Trump and the campaign turn to for a derogatory, juvenile nickname?

The answer: “Phony Kamala.”

One wonders if the GOP research team that produced that result was financed by Sheldon Adelson. Because if so, Adelson should ask for his money back.

The nickname was included in a pre-made ready-to-launch Trump campaign ad that was put online shortly after Biden made the announcement. 

Harris, according to the Trump ad, ran for president “by rushing to the radical left, embracing Bernie’s plan for socialized medicine, calling for trillions in new taxes,” and “attacking Joe Biden for racist policies,” so…

Wait. What? 

When Harris called out Biden, rightly, for waxing nostalgic about hanging with good ol’ boy segregationist senators, Harris shouldn’t have done that? Because Biden isn’t a racist? Is that what Trump’s campaign is saying? Because just the other day Trump’s campaign seemed to be saying Biden is a racist.

So confusing. And odd. You’d think this would be one area where Trump himself could draw on his ample expertise and provide the campaign with firm guidance and certain messaging, given all the times Donald Trump has never been a racist.

Trump’s ad also says voters rejected Harris when she was running for president, because “they smartly spotted a phony,” and… 

Wait. What?

When Harris moved to the “radical left,” (momentarily) embraced Medicare for all and challenged Biden for his opposition to busing, she was just being a phony? She’s not really a radical leftist? She’s really a moderate? Is that what Trump’s ad is saying?

Again, so confusing. We have all been led to believe that all the Democrats in Congress love them some radical left. That’s what Trump and his housebroken Republicans say all the time. Do Trump & Pets secretly not believe that? Are they being, to borrow a term, phony?

To be sure, Harris backtracked, er, evolved on Medicare for all as a presidential candidate, initially supporting it, then moving to a transitional policy which would retain private insurers — in other words, a policy not unlike the public option plan Biden supports.

And Harris made a foible or two with respect to Nevada, too. Remember that time she mixed up Yucca Mountain and the Nevada National Test Site, and mistakenly claimed the Trump administration shipped nuclear material to Yucca Mountain in the dead of night?

“It is so easy to conflate the Nevada Test Site with Yucca Mountain and those issues tend to roll over on each other and some people still haven’t gotten straight what we’re doing at which place,” Rep. Dina Titus noted during a panel last September convened to urge presidential candidates to pay attention to Nevada’s nuclear issues. 

“One presidential candidate who we think is very informed and comes from a nearby state was saying that in a recent forum, talking about the waste at Yucca Mountain. Well as has been pointed out, there is no waste at Yucca Mountain,” Titus said.

Well, nobody’s perfect, and that includes Kamala Harris (though many might find her a more faithful approximation than Mike Pence).

Fortunately for all the candidates in both parties, presidential campaigns have never been about perfection. And no presidential campaign has ever been less about perfection than one involving Trump.

No presidential campaign has ever been about a vice presidential pick either (unless you count the Kennedy-Johnson ticket in 1960, which some people do).

Harris deserves congratulations. Her selection is historic, and if victorious, a Biden-Harris administration will be even more so.

But the 2020 election won’t be about her. It won’t even be about Biden.

The 2020 election will be about the one thing Trump’s campaign does not want it to be about, which is also the exact same thing the 2020 election was going to be about ever since Trump lost the popular vote but won the electoral college in 2016: A referendum on him.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.